tv Today in Washington CSPAN May 16, 2012 6:00am-7:00am EDT
phyllis report which we looked at this morning under tab 21 in the bundle we prepared. contexted in evidence section, section 4, mr. campbell. in background to the breakdown, page 7. they major factors have contributed to the breakdown in relationship between government and the media and the public. the communications strategy adopted by the late administration coming into power in 1997, reaction to the media and the press in particular to that, then the response of the civil service. latest past experience, government communications staff were not up to the mark, so a rise in the media handling role of politically appointed, unelected special advisers. their more aggressive approach and their increased use of selected briefing of media outlets in which government information was seen to be used to political advantage, later
reaction from the media used to far more adversarial relationship with government. while cause and effect there may be disputatious, it's inevitably mixed up. you would say you can't take this to 1997, you should go much earlier in time, your evidence says that. the basic thesis advanced here is not far wide of the mark, is it? >> no, although the specific -- the same page says the specific trigger for this inquiry, i think i'm right in saying, was the very difficult relationships between civil servants and special advisers in one department, department of transport, and also then the difficulties that we had in relation to what became known as -- everything has to have a ga gate, surreygate, and bristol flats. i think that was the background. then the difficulties with the
bbc over iraq. so i think the relationship got into a very, very bad place, there's no doubt about that. and as i say in my statement, i think a lot of the media put the blame on us. i think we put most of the blame on them. and that probably exacerbated the problem. but i think it is -- i do emphasize, as i said earlier, that it's -- this will not be fixed unless the media accept some of their responsibility in relation to how all this developed. i've set out in both statements why i think it's happened. i think some of it's perfectly understandable. but if we just see this as a problem of government communications, then we're not going to get anywhere. >> usually when one's trying to diagnose the problem, it's sometimes not particularly helpful to dwell on fault and certainly rarely helpful to dwell on personal fault. but are we able to agree that
there is responsibility on both sides of -- the. >> yeah. >> -- equation, as it were. the society, the press, and on the side of politicians. in particular there is -- i'll speak for them -- such as you? >> yeah, i will. but what i won't do -- what the media like to do is, until you say it's all your fault, we're not going to engage in this debate. now, this inquiry has actually finally led to it a slightly different place. i don't make any apology for the changes we made in opposition because they helped us to win. i don't make apology for the changes made in government because they helped us to communicate more effectively and i think that helped the prime minister to be -- to govern more effectively. what i do accept is that at times we probably were too controlling, that at times we did hold on to some of the techniques of opposition when we
should have dumped them at door number 10. i also ask you to bear in mind just the sheer volume of issues that we were expected to deal with, be on top of. 24/7 media means just that. you're dealing with this 24 hours a day at a time when, in my case, also trying to be in charge of overall strategy as well. so i think the points that i made earlier about the debit side of the way the media's developed, i don't deny any of them and i think the media has to face up to that. >> mr. marr in his book "my trade" under "the dirty art of political journalism" page 161, graphic accounts of a certain modus operandi, tales of how new labor had told reporters or producers spread through the wall of press gallery offices
and between headquarters, the backlash was slow but it came. at the end of blair's first two years it was a badge of honor to be bollocked and shout back just as loudly. >> i don't really buy that, to be honest. i think that -- was i robust, yes. if a newspaper wrote something that i didn't -- that i wanted to rebut and refute, would i do it, yes. but this bullying thing i think is nonsense, i do. >> persistent attempts to dictate what should appear on a front page or top of a running order became infuriating and hardened journalistic hearts even before the 1997 election it was obvious labor had spiestiving it off about the running orders, script lines and correspondents being used for news programs and attempting to ambush them before they went on-air to get more favorable coverage. alastair campbell and others would single out and ridicule
the correspondents at hostile newspapers. george james, political editor of "the daily telegraph," studiously favorite of the old school, was a favorite target. did that happen if. >> you can ask george but i don't think so, no. >> okay. >> i suspect from the smile on his face, nor does he. >> maybe a different sort of smile, i can't see it. favored reporters were given special treatment just as though editors were made much of in downing street and invited to weekends at checkers. did that happen? >> there may have been some invited to checkers, not many. i'm afraid i don't buy this thesis, no, i really don't. as i said, most of my contact with journalists who defended what i call the institutionalized dishonesty of the old system, most of my contact with journalists were on the record-briefings where they could quote whatever i said, any of them could come to it. were there some journalists that
i liked more then others? you wouldn't be human if you didn't. i think that's just the way of the world. were there some that i trusted more than on the records? certainly. were there some for whom i had complete and total contempt? yes, there were. did i ever kick them out of briefings? no. >> he continues and concludes indeed, political correspondents had a certain alongside their professional -- >> that's what i call the herd mentality. >> yes, it's true. a cynical way some were favored because they worked for murdoch, others were sneered at because they worked for at because they worked for conrad black disgusted many who worked for neither. >> again, the person at the sun with whom i would have had most day-to-day contact was trechb cabinet because he was the political editor. i think it's fair to say trevor and i disagreed about most things. he was -- i go back to the point i made earlier. everybody thought i was favoring
somebody else. everybody thought that anything that appeared in the press somehow came from me. the whole thing was absurd. but the absurdity i think -- and i say in the statement one of the best examples of spin done by journalists is the extent to which the issue of spin became so central to the debate. i had a job to do. my job was to brief the press on behalf of the prime minister and to advise the prime minister and other ministers. and i did that job in an incredibly exposed place. there are half a dozen -- and i know you've got a couple of journalists coming later this week. you no doubt will go into them in huge detail. there are half a dozen issues that get thrown back again and again and again and again. i dealt with thousands of stories. i dealt with thousands of briefings. and i would defend the accuracy and hontsz of thoesty of those y journalist any day of the week. >> without exception? >> no, there are some terrific
journalists. >> no, no, no -- >> oh, no, we made mistakes. for sure. but given the pressures we were under they were extraordinarily few in number. >> a different perspective from mr. powell, page 194. just to show that there's always a need for balance. >> i did actually read andrew mar's book over the weekend because it was on your reading list. there were some bits where he was very, very nice about me. i was rather shocked to read that. >> well, that's why we've not referred you to them. this is mr. powell speaking. "anna stow was unfairly criticized for politicizing the government press service. actually, what he did was to professionalize and modernize it. when we arrived it was in a parlor state and by the time we left it it had regained its confidence and become far better at what it did. the seamy side of political press briefing is the domain of
ministers' special advisers and of course of ministers themselves. would you agree with that? >> that's the point i made earlier, that whenever anything appeared in the press that came from the government people assumed it was me but often it wasn't. i would certainly agree that the government communications system that we inherited was not fit for the purpose -- a lot of change had to be maud. robin butler, the cabinet secretary, was very, very clear with me that i had the authority to make change. he then set up the manfield review, which led to substantial changes. i think they're changes for the better. most of them have been kept by gordon brown and david cameron. and other people got up to all sorts of stuff. there's no doubt about that. and part of politics is part of life. i tried to control at the center. i tried to keep a grip of things. but the reality is there are hundreds of people out there the whole time who -- anybody who
works on downing street in the eyes of a journalist is a senior downing street source. anybody who works in the home office is a senior home office source. i think we did a pretty good job in having proper coordination at the center, but it's very difficult to maintain that. >> mr. powell points the finger of blame in a particular place. he says "it's the special advisers like the damian o'brieens, charlie wheelers, and ed balzes, not -- who specialize in character assassination through the pages of the newspapers. what always surprised me was that the assassins managed to persuade the press to keep quiet about their activities. however many incriminating e-mails or texts they sent." >> that's a very good point. in other words -- >> is all of that correct? >> well, no, not all of it because -- did you if you ask me to single out then i would single out charlie wheeland.
i was always clear about that. and i was always clear with gordon brown that i thought it damaged him to have him there. likewise damian mcbride. the point i'm make -- i can remember, for example, one briefing where at the end of, yes, another frenzy and journalists accusing me of lying and politicians then getting roped in to say i should resign and blah, blah, blah. i can remember saying to all the journalists there in the room, right, come on. just say what the lie is and then provide any evidence whatsoever. and they never could. so just -- and that in itself is a form of spin. i mean, you sent me peter o'bourne's essay he did for the british journalism review. most lobby journalists he said have been deliberately misled or lied to by downing street. followed by zero evidence whatsoever. new evidence of a culture of deception, manipulation of statistics, secretive smear campaigns. he lists david clark, keith
hellowell, the drug czar. no evidence whatsoever. and moe came to believe that we were briefing against her because it kept being written. and there's not a single journalist that's ever produced a shred of evidence. and that's way mean by them being the spin doctors. >> finally, they succeeded in building up a dependency on the political correspondents by feeding them constant supplied stories so the journalists were reluctant to endanger that supply by revealing their methods. >> correct. >> and that's why you -- if you look at david cam reron now, he the prime minister, he has his own media team. i don't think -- take someone like boris johnson. i'm not saying this is going on. but if boris johnson and the people around him want to be briefing the press in a way to undermine david cameron they can do that and they know the journalists aren't going to drop
the minute because it's too good a story for them. so we have that in relation to some of the people who work with gordon brown. no doubt. >> by the end of your time in downing street, mr. campbell, you were somewhat jaded, it may be fair to say, mr. blair points out, pages 301, 32 -- 302, pardon me, of his book. al astare was getting exhausted and ratty and he was getting set upon by the media, whom he was coming to loathe. he was therefore not handling quite right. well, i'm not interested in the bit about handling quite right. but you were coming to loathe them, presumably. >> not all of them. i was coming to loathe -- well, i had come to loathe the culture that i've set out in my statements. there were some individuals that i had come to loathe. i'd come to loathe their
self-obsession, their obsession with me, the negativity, the trivialization. i had come to loathe all that. yeah. but let me just say on the other hand, as i said in my first statement, some of them were and are fantastic first-rate journalists who i think were as worried about the culture as i was. but couldn't actually -- didn't feel empowered to do anything about it. but i was certainly ready to reach the exit door. >> lord mandelson, one of his concluding observations, it's an interview mr. warnersly carried out. lord mandelson referred to page 9 of mr. warnsly's book. there was a great emphasis on managing the media. the expense of managing policy. it was a sense that if you got the story right you'd achieved something and that's not how government is. do you feel there's any validity
in that comment? >> no. i think the policy process was always taken more seriously. but i think we all spent far too much time sfoexed on -- and i speak now as the guy who was in charge of this. the politicians spent way too much time worrying about this stuff. >> what you said, media issues take up much too much time of the prime minister and other senior ministers. >> yeah. but just in their defense, it's very difficult when these full-on frenzies are coming at you. there comes a point where the prime minister will say i need to get out there and deal with this. my point is i think that i think they can have a lot more space and the public are much more savvy about this now and the more strategic the politicians will be the better it will be for them, the less they're focused on the day to day. now, back in the beginning when we started out i think we had to
adopt the approach that we had because we had to recalibrate the playing field. but i think now hopefully there's the window, to use your word earlier, to get to a much, much better position. but it's going to require change from both the politicians and the media. >> well, you said politicians need to get political power back. >> yeah. >> how? >> not at the expense of a free press. i think they have to get a sense of their own power back. you made the point earlier about access. they probably do spend too much time -- look, diary secretaries are used to to being people off and saying no, there's not enough time in the diary. i think the senior politicians need to do more of that with the media. the great thing about the whole sort of change and internet and the media and so forth are the direct channels of communication
now. just as the public can shape a different media landscape so can the politicians, and they should. but i think there's a sense of them still judging their success or failure far too much on what sort of press they're getting. when i saw them, for example, the list of direct contacts there's been between this government and the murdochs since the election, michael go, for example, i couldn't believe it. wasted his time. to my mind. better things to do. >> we will look at the future again at the end of your evidence. i've been asked to put questions to you from a list of different sources, most core participants. i'll do that now, mr. campbell. >> am i allowed to guess who they are? >> i don't really think it matters, mr. campbell. it's the question of the messenger. but feel free. paragraph 7 of your state. page 00794. in the third line you refer to
taking a more strategic, a more proactive approach to communication. did this entail on occasion eck on mi e he can on mizing with the truth, which you continued to deny as an invention of the press? >> i don't think i denied them as an invention of the press but i might have dealt with them in the way i felt would best benefit the government. you have to remember my job was not -- i wasn't the press's representative on downing street. i was the prime minister's spokesman. and he with talked earlier about the -- if you've got a room full of journalists who are being briefed by other people somewhere in the system that there's this problem and i'd be stupid if i sat there and said there wasn't a problem. but what i would do is say look, we're not going to focus on that, we're going to focus on this. we're going to focus on the budget. we're going to focus on welfare reform, whatever. it wasn't that i was denying,
but i would choose my words very carefully in how i dealt with it. >> paragraph 12 now. page 00797. at the very bottom of the page you refer to the remarkable shift of opinion made by some of the murdoch titles on the issue of scottish nationalism and independence and in particular the movement of the scottish sun. the "times" made mr. sammand man of the year. you're not suggesting some sort of causal connection there, are you, mr. campbell? or are you? >> cause between what and what? >> well, between the support the murdoch papers were beginning to give mr. samman, in particular in scotland, and the "times" making mr. samman man of the year.
>> i think the -- i do think rupert murdoch decided samman was someone he wanted to be supportive of for whatever reason. alex samman probably was one of the men of that year. i'm simply making an observation. i do think there's a bigger point in that paragraph. i think the prime minister david cameron and nick clel nd and miliband are getting disproportionately whacked at the moment because of their stance on the media. i think it's revenge for who set this inquiry up. i do believe that. and i don't think i'm alone in nap and i think the support for alex sammond is potentially related to that. >> paragraph 7 lessons to learn.
00812. this is a more general question. do you not think the government's constant attempts to repackage hold announcements, we're talking now of the labor governmen government, the government's constant attempts to repackage old announcements stories and news and put the best comcomplex on figures create a legitimate thrust in what you were saying? >> i think again -- sorry to keep going on about the treas y treasury, but there was a time when there was so-called double accounting which was frankly stupid. this thing about reannouncing is difficult because the reality is that andrew landsly made a speech at the royal college of nursing today. i don't know whether he had any major announcements to make or not. but that would have been seen by the people who were there and there were bits on the news,
largely about the hostile reaction to him. he therefore to my mind is perfectly justified in going on to another venue on another day and saying the same thing again and hoping to get coverage. is that reannouncing? i don't know. communication. what my definition of strategic communication is the communication of what you're trying to do over time. i think retaining the media's interest in that is not easy when what they keep saying is well, what's new? and when we talked earlier about the business of politicians trying to be more strategic, the media want news 24 hours a day because that's the business that they're in. and they look to the politicians because they're the most high-profile people in the you country, possibly with the exception of footballers. they look to them to provide that news. all i'm saying is i think the politicians need to step back from that. their job is not that, their job
is to govern. so does that answer it? >> paragraph 60, mr. campbell. page 00829. where you deal with special advisers. >> yeah. >> it's your experience the relationships worked well, you explain. two lines from the bottom of the page. "i would add that on any sensitive issues special advisers as senior in the system as jonathan powell and i would not do anything without general direction and often specific checking from our employer. >> mm-hmm. >> so you can enlighten us as to what the practice was between 1997 and 2003. >> i did stay involved with tony blair and later with gordon brown. but for example, when people talk about blaming their advisers or we've talked about
some of gordon's special advisers, i don't think it's enough for a politician to say well, they're freelance or they're doing their own thing. jonathan and i were both very, very senior in the system, but if we were dealing with difficult, sensitive issues we knew at all times we were representing the prime minister. and special advisers are very personal appointments by ministers or in our case the prime minister. and that's why i think there was a lot of justified skepticism following the evidence of one of your recent witnesses. >> i've been asked by one core participant to ask you questions about the black rod incident in 2002. the death of the queen mother, which was of course in april of 2002. and provided you with a little clip, mr. campbell, of
materials. can we just get the chronology right? there was a piece in the "mail" on sunday -- >> no, i think the "spectator" was the first piece. >> right. >> april the 13th. peter oborne. how tony blair tried to muscle in on the mourning. totally untrue. >> the piece certainly one of the pieces you complained about to the pcc was published in the "mail" on sunday on the 14th of april -- >> that's correct. >> -- 2002. do you recall that? and we got a proof print of this story. downing street wanted tony blair to have a bigger role in the sermon to mark the queen mother's death. it was revealed last night. a senior blair aide telephoned blackrod and asked her if the prime minister would be able to
meet the coffin when it arrived at westminster hall. sumner was told by blackwell that there was no role for mr. blair, made it clear he was not opposed to change his plan. the government officials wanted buckingham palace to reduce the lying in state from four days to three because they feared there would be insufficient numbers," paraphras paraphrased. and then toward the bottom of the page about ten lines from the bottom. blackrod, a former army officer, told her that miss politely but firmly that mr. blair would not greet the coffin, he's seen hundreds of -- as well the plan had already been drawn up. and on the next page four lines from the top, "downing street spokesman said last night we did not suggest the prime minister's role should be changed in any way, nor did we put pressure on
anyone." >> correct. >> and you then complained to the editor in the "mail" on sunday on the 15th of april 2002. >> mm-hmm. >> so this was obviously the monday morning the following day. you say in the mail on sunday yesterday simon waters repeated the false claims. so that must be reference to the earlier claim in the spectator, is that right? >> yeah. >> that downing street sought to chait royal family's arrangements for the lying in state tone hans the prime minister's role. the prime ministers asked me to tell you that unless you print a correction and apology, which makes clear unequivocally that this story is untrue and you accept it to be untrue we'll be making a complaint to the pcc and clause 1 of the code. >> i think you made the complaint on the 24th of april,
2002 to the pcc. but there was an intervening letter from mr. wright on the 16th of april where he came out pointing, as it were. the third paragraph, "i did not believe it's in dispute clair sumner telephoned sir michael wilcox to discuss the arrangements. it's our information that mr. sumner indicated surprise that mr. blair would not be meeting the coffin and the royal family when they arrived at westminster hall. so michael told miss sumner that that was indeed the established ban, he was not prepared to change it. in fact, you did make one change. and then mr. wright asked three questions to be answered. and finally, there was a letter by blackrod to the pcc which we see at the back of this file. it's dated the 8th of may, 2002. it came after a request by the
pcc made the previous day to respond to your complaint. blackrod in this letter effectively said that there were conversations with miss sumner and the efforts were made to change the plans. would you agree with that? >> if you look at page 3 of his statement, the indented top paragra paragraph, he writes the statement that he gave to us, that we were then able to use to rebut these totally untrue stories. he says "in the immediate aftermath of the news of the death the queen mother was tacted by the staff to brief them on the pm's role. i did so in explaining the ceremony. at no stage was i ever asked to change these arrangements." so why on earth he told us one thing when as his letter then subsequently shows he clearly
for whatever reason having this discussion with simon walters. but the point is that it became impossible because the pcc said that they were not in a position where they could adjudicate on fact. and and so we with all the other things going on said this is a complete waste of time and we dropped it, which of course the press took to say oh, that means the story was true. the story was untrue then and is untrue now. i've given it -- this was sent to me yesterday. i asked the cabinet office to dig out the file. and i sent to your team the copies of the correspondence on it from our perspective so that you do actually have the broader story. and how we handled it. >> what blackrod says toward the end of page 3, finally we come to the mail on sunday articles. here i did have contact with simon walters before publication. he came to see me on 11th april to research the story on the costs of the lying in state. operation. at the end of the interview made
it clear that he had sources which in effect substantiated the underlying thrust of the "spectato "spectator's" original article. though i repeated my on the record statement i was surprised by the quality of information because i could not in truth deny the main force of his contentions. >> in which case it's very odd that he denied them on the road prior to that. so if you're interested in this you'd have to talk to blackrod because he does appear to be saying different things on the same piece of paper. all i know is that a very damaging story was run, first in the spectator, then the standard, then the mail on sunday and the story was completely and totally untrue. clair sumner, whose job in downey street was parliamentary liaison. she had to establish what the prime minister was meant to do on an event as important as the death of the queen mother. then he goes on in his letters to say they happen to be the prime minister's protection team that advanced wherever he goes.
forgive me if i don't take this as seriously as the people who wrote at the time but this story was total nonsense. >> blackrod for better or worse on the last page says i find it rather difficult to fault the mail on sunday -- >> he's obviously somebody who's very friendly with the mail on sundays and didn't want to say anything untoward about them. all i know is the story's untrue. >> then finally, i'm asked to put to you, you didn't reply to mr. wright's letters of the 12th and the 17th of june. >> i have no idea whether i did or i didn't. >> i'd like to think they would have included them had you -- i think that's as far as i can take. >> i think blackrod ended up taking a position on the pcc but i could be wrong about that. >> pardon me, mr. cam snbl. >> i think blackrod ended up taking a position on the pcc. >> i think you may be right.
>> come on, mr. campbell, don't overdo it. another question i've been asked -- >> this wasn't one of the half dozen that i mentioned earlier that always gets raised. >> the other question i've put to you -- i'm asked to put to you, excuse me, is in paragra paragraph -- of your statement. >> yeah. >> you say "nobody with the prms prime minister's or my authority briefed the sun on election day in 2001." you look at the third volume of your diaries, page 567, entry for saturday the 31st of march, 2001. you do refer to a conversation with trevor cavener in these
terms. my chat with cavener had been written hard as a june election. then you move on to a different topic. and the first call of the day was db, that's mr. blunkette saying he was pissed off it came out in a newspaper like that. or maybe he was still on the same topic, namely, the timing of the election. >> i'd have to check. but i think that refers to a story about david blunkette's position in the government. i could be wrong. because i think he was moved after the election. but the point i make in my witness statement is valid. the sun ran a story -- look, it's obvious. now we have fixed term parmts. so this question may not arise. but the timing of the election is a story that every single political journalist is looking for the whole time. and they speculated about it all the time. the truth is we had been planning to have the election on may the 3rd and it was postponed
because of foot and mouth. trevor cavener had run a story earlier saying may the 3rd, election day, official. no didn't come from us and nor did the subsequent story saying it was going to be on whatever date in june it turned out to be. and i think while i'm reflecting i was probably speaking to trevor cavener every day at this point. we were in the run-up to the election campaign. but at no point did i give anybody -- at the time anybody until the prime minister announced the election date, although by then we were frankly running out of dates. >> but some would say that it's fairly clear from that first sentence of the diary entry that you had a conversation with mr. cavener and he certainly gained the impression from it that the election was being put back to june. >> he may well have done, but what i didn't do is brief him on the election date. >> what's the difference, mr. cam snbl. >> the difference is he phones me up and says alastair -- just
imagine being in my position where i know the information. he thinks that he knows the information. he's trying to tease it out of me. and he reads body language and he reads the way that i say things. i don't want to mislead him. i never -- again, contrary to the sort of oborne thesis i never told him lies. but i sometimes didn't tell him everything that i knew. he reads the language. by then it was blindingly obvious when the election was going to be, frankly. >> if it wasn't going to be may, wasn't going to be july because they never are in july, it's going to be june. >> it became a huge contention because the mirror became convinced we'd given them the election date. and no such thing. didn't. >> can we look to the future,
mr. campbell? it's 25 to 5:00. we have time do that. you pick it up in paragraph 32 of your statement. 00813. and just some ideas which we throw out. we're not going to cover all of them. we've read your statement. you say in paragraph 34 this is a very difficult area in which to regulate. you understand that. i'm interested in paragraph 36. >> you're suggesting there should be greater transparency. and the new regulator should be able to investigate the extent to which really opinion is being presented as fact. the extent to which they're fair and reasonable in their reporting. and the extent to which they're being sufficiently transparent in the interests which were
driving their content. >> mm-hmm. >> how would one go about properly exploring these regulations without seriously impeding the preeminent concern, the freedom of the press? >> i think by being aware of thats a possible concern. but if you look at -- we talked earlier about the fact that every other walk of life has some sort of oversight and scrutiny and regulation some of the reports that the broadcasting regulator publishes from time to time would be similar to this. i'm simply suggesting that whichever body replaces the pcc as well as investigating individual complaints against a code -- and as i said in my first statement i think 9 pcc code is a very good basis. but also to look at trends. you took evidence from the
mccanns. had there been a regulator who as that story was developing could actually have said we are going to have an investigation into the way this is being covered, that might have had an effect, and i think it would have been an effect for the good. i mentioned some of the specific issues there. the editorial line about the bbc. i'm not saying you can't have a bias. but i think if an outside body were able to analyze whether they felt there were one -- and inevitably there's going to be some subjectivity attached to this. but when this inquiry finally writes its report, judgments are made. that's what people are put in these positions to do. so i'm suggesting somebody, somebody's put in that position to make judgments so the public's better informed. and i say later that as a result of this inquiry the public have
learned and seen things that they didn't know about. i think that's been to the public good already. but if this body were able to say i'm concerned about this issue, i want to -- i'd like to interview an editor or an owner about that, what on earth is wrong with that? i don't see anything wrong with it at all. i think it would be good. good thing for the press. and i make the point that you would probably know more about this than i do but some of the regulation of the legal profession i think has probably strengthened the legal profession and it's been a mixture of statutory and non-statutory. >> if you compare the last sentence of paragraph 37 with the last sentence of paragraph
39, start with the last sentence of 39. you say, "if, for example, a paper repeatedly distorts the facts in support of a political goal -- stopping the paper from reporting that way, there's value in some respected body pointing out that's what's happening." if the facts were being distorted that would be a breach of clause one of the -- >> i haven't explained that very well. what i mean by that is for example, i talked earlier about the sun has a particular view on europe. or at the moment they have a particular view on ken clark and his fitness to be secretary of state. so you can take a fact, for example, the eurozone's in crisis. accept that's a fact. but then you can take that fact and you can turn it into a comment that justifies your position on europe. likize if you're ken clark. if a select committee report is published which is critical of the justice department, you can take that and you can splash all
over your front page why clark has to go. i'm making the point that the facts will be there in the story somewhere. the distortion is in the way they take them then to build a comment which relates to a campaign they're running. i don't think you should stop newspapers from doing that. it's perfectly legitimate for newspapers to have strong positions. the fact is a fact. but i'm simply saying if you have an outside body that says actually, this paper has a position on europe, has a position on a particular politician, has a position on a particular political party -- i saw a bit about gus o'donald this morning and he was making a point about the bbc and the "times" and this is particularly relevant to this debate about what's being online. the public are absorbing all this stuff not necessarily knowing what the motivation of an owner is, what the motivation of an editor may be. and i think actually an outside body can help to bring thetrans
are never going to shine upon themselves. history would suggest. >> is this what some of the ngos do? is it full fact and the media stands trusted, those sort of bodies get involved in that sort of thing? >> they do. but it's interesting that i mentioned the peter oborne piece in the british journalism review. there are some journalists who do this as well. but they tend as in that article to be treated as outsiders, oddballs. i think that what hacked off in full fact and the media standards trust and these bodies are representing is a genuine public concern about what the media has become and this loss of face and loss of trust in where fact ends and where comment begins.
and i agree with what gus o'donald said this morning but i think it's naive of either of us to think you're ever go to change that and actually a part of me says you shouldn't want to change that. particularly in the internet age newspapers have to be able to take strong positions but you think there should be a greater ability for people or organizations to be able to have a come back against them when they are distorting not just fusing facts and comment but actually rin venting to suit i particular agenda. and we had that the whole time. and so did a lot of people in public life. >> i'm just trying to think through this, mr. campbell. when segregating fact from comments and fact of course is -- can be scrutinized now, but there are certain types of comments that you feel ought to
be scrutinized either because they may be a key to the motivations of the editors. is that right? alternatively the comments themselves are so distorted they are close to being perverse. and then some might sigh almost factually untrue. is that it? >> yeah. and this is a difficult area. i talked in my first witness statement about the whole business of anonymous quotes. to my mind the fact a lot of them are invented. how's a regulator ever going to get to the bottom of that? a journalist says, well somebody said it to me, and you can't disprove it. that is true. but most people who've had a very high-profile, particularly in the political environment, know because we've all been on the receiving end of stories which we know to be true. untrue. we just talked about one of them in relationship to black rod, where a civil servant was accused of doing something she just never did. and then i of course was accused of having put her up to it. and then tony blair was accused
of putting her up to it to put me up to it. based on anonymous quotes. maybe somebody did say something. but it's very difficult when you know what they said sun true. i don't know what a regulator does about that. but i think having a respected outside body that is able to investigate and look at things thematically i think would be a useful addition to this area. now, the other area -- because of course you've got a problem. is that you're looking at the print industry, which is really challenged at the moment for reasons that are obvious. technological change and advance. that's accelerating. but why i think it's still important to keep the focus on the print industry is because these are the same people who to be fair to them are having to and in some cases are successfully adapting to this technological revolution.
so actually, if you do get the regulatory framework right for print journalism i think that will have a profound effect on the way the internet develops. >> this is not so much whether mr. remember lebedev made the point, it's not so much as whether your news comes on dead trees or through the -- >> tablet p. >> the tablet or whatever. the fact is it's about -- or may be about the thing that journalists do that nobody else does, which is to go out, to get stories, to put the facts together, and then to write about them in a way that is accessible to a wider population. which is perhaps different from those that are simply tweeting to one another or otherwise communicating on facebook.
>> yeah, but otherwise the -- when we had the little break, and i was just sort of having a look at my phone and -- the guys from the bbc and itv and sky who are covering this, they're not here. they're outside. they're watching it. why don't they want to be in here? because that is now part of journalism as well. so they tweet, they write, they blog, they go on television. they are journalists. what i think is happening is we're going to end up in a position where there has to be a redefinition essentially of what a journalist is. i think it would be absurd to expect you to regulate, have regulation for every single person who's on facebook and twitter because then you're not far off from saying we have to regulate the content of text messaging and so forth. it's absurd. so i think there has to be a definition of what a journalist
is, what a media organization is. and there, this is where i have some sympathy for the print industry, it's not just about the print industry. >> well, i'm sure that's right. the problem is as lord o'donnell made clear that you've not merely got to capture where we are at the moment but do it in such a way to where it's relevant 20 where you'll be in five years' time. >> and i think that's difficult because if you think that ten years ago facebook, google, twitter, youtube didn't even exist and now they are dominant within this space and the newspapers are struggling to catch up. and as rupert murdoch himself said, in their mind being ripped off the whole time for content. that's a difficult -- now, you've been given the specific area but i think in terms of this debate it's developing so quickly that -- but i've heard you many times and i read you in
the transcripts talking about the elephant in the room. maybe for a while the elephant kind of has to be parked a bit because i still do think if you get the press -- the new pcc whenever that becomes, and however it's constituted, if that works better than its predecessors, i do think that will be a big impact on the way the rest of it, the blogosphere and so forth develops because again, mooeg people aren't stupid. they can work out who knows what they're on about. when you see which of these websites get lots of traffic and which don't, it does tend to be the ones that invest properly in journalism and do real stories and so forth, and hopefully the best get to the top. >> well, the great problem is that you so define the issue that it is incapable of any sensible resolution.
and that's a pron. >> but i sort of sense that the press who have -- who i since fear most, what you may conclude, are hoping that first you and then the politicians will say this is so complicated and it's changing so fast we can't do anything about it. i think if nothing is done given how we got to where we are now and the broader cultural issues that we talked about, i think then we will be missing probably the only opportunity that we'll have a for a generation to get this right. and i totally understand what gus o'donald's saying, but it's really not the role of legislators, let alone an inquiry, to say let's predict what the world's going to be like in ten years and legislate for that. they have to take a decision based upon what's happening now.
>> in lord hant's proposals, paragraphs 41 to 43, you make a number of points there. paragraph 41 i paraphrase without obvious carrots it's hard to see what good will and good faith will bring everyone into the sheep pen, as it were. paragraph 43. third line. perfectly possible to have a systems regulation accountability which carried the authority of the government. but independent of government, parliament, commercial-invested interest. and then you furnish us with analogies oof regulatory spheres. and then you have some full
authority. what do you say about the word structure? >> what do you mean by that? >> in other words, it's perfectly acceptable to have a system of regulation that structure frt government in part can confer. >> yes. let's take the legal services out leading to the legal services board. i think the fact that it's flown from an act of parliament gives it great authority. and i think the fact that parliament then can have recall upon its effective neness is a d thing. i think the fundamental weakness of the pcc has always been the fact that it's a self-regulatory body run by the people regulating it. so the regulator is regulating those who have been regulated. without any real parliamentary oversight of any kind.
>> what lord hunt says was that if you even go down that route there are enough parliamentarians who will really want to screw the press down. >> i know that's his view. and i say in my statement i saw lord hunton, i know that's his view. it's not my view. i think people are seized enough of how serious this issue is. and i think -- i'm worried the other way, to be frank. i'm worried that too many of the parliamentarians just want to turn away from this. the ones -- there's plenty who get a high profile with saying what they say on the let's regulate side of the fence. but i think my worry in relation to michael gove and some of the political leaders just want this to go away. >> and then mr. campbell, will you identify what you've
described as potential flaws in lord hunt's proposals? first of those you've already identified paragraph iragraph 4 paper is under no obligation to -- lack of detail about how the propose the contact will work in practice and sanctions and accountability. the fear that the industry would to any event manage to -- once aga general agreement was reached and followed by negotiations with the desmond problem. finally you refer to aspects of the new system which are in your opinion in common with the cold. >> yes. >> are there any points you wish to develop or amplify -- >> i think the funding is difficult because press boff is it's back to their system and they pay for. so how would you fund this, perhaps it does have to be a
claim upon the public first. i think the editor's code has always been a major flaw. the fact we're servinging people who decide what the editor's code is is just so obviously a flaw in the whole system. -6 i think that lord hunt, he's doing a very good job trying to make sense of this but he's an absolute passionate believer in regulations. he's trying to get the last chance saloon. and i think they've had so many last chance saloons i think the public would think it's odd. let's have a pcc but call it something different. >> i've asked of you this final question. it's on a slightly earlier point. do you think that the existing editor's code adequately separates fact from opinion in clause 1? >> you'd have to remind me what
clause 1 says other than its commitment to accuracy. is it fact, comment, and conjecture? is that the -- comme >> comment and conjecture are outside clause 1. but fact is part of accuracy and within clause 1 and within therefore the jurisdiction of the pcc. i think that fairly summarizes the position. >> i can't claim to carry the pcc code around in my head. >> maybe it's too precise a poi point. >> i think your quality's cut on the screen. >> yes, the free are free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture, and fact. >> i think that's a very good